Activists from organizations in the coalition For Nature in Bulgaria demonstrate disregard for the conservation laws in Rila National Park. Oddly enough, The Greens themselves are responsible for the restrictive measures against which they have been talking for several days.

It turns out that the public events of “the conservationists” are another attempt to mislead the general public and to accumulate dividends on the back of the Bulgarian institutions, an investigation of Trud uncovered. The reason for the manipulation is the fine that the Management of Rila National Park must impose on the vlogger Slavi Panayotov. On July 27 he organized a trek to Musala peak. According to the information, more than 1500 people participated in the ascent. This is a violation of the Park’s Management Plan. The reason is that the route to the peak passes through a zone of limited human impact and, according to the legislation, any group walking on the paths cannot exceed 20 persons. The organization of such an event must first be approved by the Park’s management. Such a permission has not been granted, states the management in front of Trud. On August 8 BTV broadcasted a news report on the matter. The “ecologist” Andrey Kovachev shared his “expert” opinion. “Fines are imposed only when the victims are younger. It would have been very simple for the Ministry (of Environment and Water that is responsible for the National Parks – note of the author) to inform the people to split into smaller groups. They wait for someone to break the law and impose the maximum fine,” explained Kovachev. Neither of the three sentences said by “conservationist” is correct. Regarding the young victims, the world-famous television host Bear Grylls was sanctioned for swimming across one of the Seven Rila Lakes. This happened during the filming of an episode of his series Running Wild with Bear Grylls in Rila National Park. Grylls’s team paid the fine. As to whether the Management Plan of the Park foresees employees to split “people into groups,” Trud asked the Management of the protected territory. Here is their reply: “The employees from the security and control division at the Directorate of Rila National Park would violate the rules if, on their own accord and without any document, they split the people in groups. There has to be a responsible person assigned for each group and a written permission from the management to carry out the event. In case of an accident or a violation they would carry the whole responsibility.” The paradox is that the restrictions in the Management Plans of the 11 nature parks and the three national parks in Bulgaria are a result of the pressure of The Greens. Under their dictation the development of mountain tourism is virtually halted due to ridiculous prohibitions. These were enforced because most of the plans were prepared by representatives of For Nature in Bulgaria or with their participation. The present Management Plan of Rila National Park was supposed to be valid until 2010, but it is still in force. The reason is that the “conservationists” insist that all framework documents on the management of protected territories are subjected to an ecological assessment (EA), while this is not laid out in the law. The aim of The Greens is to be able to appeal against the EA in court, thus blocking the investment intentions directed towards the development of mountain regions. In this way “the ecologists” are controlling what will be invested and where. Be it a cable car, a ski slope or a cabin, nothing can be done in a Nature or National Park without the blessing of “the conservationists”. Due to the green pressure the new Management Plan for Rila will expire without ever having been into force. The document is still pending approval due to the reasons described above. But if this document was in force, Slavi Panayotov would not have been threatened with a fine. Because the regime for the number of people in groups in Rila is much more liberal in order to stimulate mountain tourism. What actually happens is that The Greens blame the institutions for fining Panayotov. However, they fail to mention that the sanction is due to restrictions imposed by them. The mass ascent to Musala: The procedure has not been followed The vlogger Slavi Panayotov did not follow the procedure for organizing the mass ascent to Musala peak, according to the official reply of the Directorate of Rila National Park received by Trud. According to the Management Plan, in order to organize such an event, the originator, be it a physical or a legal person, must submit an application form to the Management of the Park. The document can be downloaded from the website of the Directorate of Rila National Park. “The application shall include the details of the applicant, justification, venue, program with time schedule for performance of the activity, places for feeding and accommodation of the participants, type of transport, technology and materials, responsible person for the organization of the event and a document for the current status of the legal persons. Thus, the body issuing individual acts (in this case the Directorate of Rila National Park) can assess the situation and determine whether the event can be organized and under what conditions,” clarifies the management in front of the newspaper.